Adding Culture to South-of-the-Border Cuisine

Whether it’s a plate full of tacos, a bowl of beans and rice, or a lovely Mexican-inspired salad, south-of-the-border meals are almost always a hit.

The common ingredients include beans, meat, rice, salsas, peppers, onions, fresh vegetables, and seasonings like cumin, chilies, garlic, Mexican oregano, lime, and cilantro. Any combination of these will set you down the right path.

Beyond those basic flavors, there are more options than you might imagine to add a bit of culture or living foods to every meal. In fact, many authentic Mexican meals often include raw or cultured foods such as cultured cream, hot sauce, and traditionally-made corn tortillas.

In case you’re stumped for more ways to add culture to your south-of-the-border cuisine, here are some foods you might want to incorporate.

Cultured Beans. Notoriously hard to digest, beans can be made easier on the tummy through the simple addition of a starter culture. In this article you can find tips on when and how to culture beans and what you can use to kick-start the fermentation process.

Cultured Guacamole or Bean Dip. If you’re serving some freshly fried tortilla chips then you might try to add some culture to your guacamole or bean dip. That little extra kick of flavor the culturing process gives will also be appreciated.

Cultured Cream or Yogurt. Topping your tacos, salad, chili, or beans with sour cream is a great way to add flavor, a bit of healthy fat, and enzymes. Many store-bought sour creams do not contain the enzymes and probiotics of truly cultured cream. Try crème fraîche, sour cream, or homemade yogurt.

Fermented Salsa. Allowing your homemade salsa to culture before refrigerating adds an undeniable zip to the flavor and a wonderful blend of probiotics and enzymes. Make it as mild or spicy as you like, but definitely put a bowl out for all to enjoy.

Fermented Hot Sauce. Some like it mild, and some like it hot. A small bottle of this habañero hot sauce, cultured to delicious perfection, will lend some serious heat for those who love it.

Fermented Peppers. These lacto-fermented jalapeño slices are the perfect topping to a salad, a bowl of beans, or a plate of cheesy nachos.

Southwestern Cultured Cream Dip. Super easy to throw together and full of punch, spice, and tangy cultured cream; this dip is a hit every single time.

Sprouted Spanish Rice. Spanish rice is such a delicious, filling addition to a Mexican-inspired meal. You can use whole-grain brown rice, but try sprouting it first next time. It’s a simple process that results in a large improvement on the overall nutritional quality of the rice.

Sourdough Tortillas or Nixtamalized Corn Tortillas. Whether it’s grass-fed beef, beans, cheese, or veggies; you’re going to want to wrap them up. The larger wheat tortillas are made tangy and fresh with sourdough or you can nixtamalize your own corn and make traditional corn tortillas.

Cultured Cortido and Carrot Sticks. Cortido is a Latin American sauerkraut that contains onions, oregano, and garlic in addition to cabbage. It is a delicious addition to tacos or salads. For a crunchy snack or addition to a main meal, these southwestern lacto-fermented carrot sticks are full of garlic and cilantro flavor.

When putting your meal together, you can use many of these elements to create a cultured feast, or just add a couple of elements to add enzymes and probiotics to the meal. Even a simple bowl of beans will be all the better for an addition of cultured cream and fermented salsa.

And don’t forget to add the fermented veggies, even if they don’t seem to fit the bill. Good old sauerkraut is delicious in a taco with juicy beef. Cultured grated carrots add a hint of tang and sweetness to a taco salad. And, of course, even a pickle will add some delicious tang to a simple Mexican dish.


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